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United legend says Manchester derby will not decide Premier League champions

SoccerBy Kevin Moran
Mourinho and Guardiola will meet again in Manchester
Mourinho and Guardiola will meet again in Manchester

THIS might disappoint a few people but my take on Saturday's Manchester derby is that, right now, it is more about bragging rights in the city than about which team is going to win the Premier League next May.

It's far too early in the cam­paign for a win for Red or Blue in Old Trafford to be a definitive statement about the season ahead.

Of course they will want to beat each other; they will want that badly.

Of course each is delighted to have won all three games so far.

But for me it will be almost as in­teresting to watch what happens be­tween the two clubs new managers, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, when they engage with the media in the days before the match.

Jose, at Chelsea, was the master of the side-swipe, of the narky com­ment that annoyed opposing teams, players or supporters in the run-up to a big game.

I suspect Mourinho will be a little more measured this week.

He'll know full well that Man­chester United's history and tra­ditions will demand a little more of their manager than attacking opponents without any provocation.

Fear of this sort of stuff was one of the reasons Mourinho didn't get the manager's gig straight after Alex Ferguson.

He will not want people pointing fingers at him, saying 'I told you so' just before the biggest game of his short tenure as the Chief Red Devil.

Guardiola has certainly swept clean in front of him.

We hear players talking about how much he has changed the re­gime at the club, and that includes trimming the playing staff.

Three players left the club on loan last week but the biggest move of all was that of England goalkeeper Joe Hart, on a season-long loan to Torino.

I've always rated Hart as a goalkeep­er, but since the word filtered out that Guardiola might want to end the England man's run at this pivotal position I've been amused.

A lot of City fans of my acquaint­ance wanted Hart out of the club over the last few weeks.

They complained that Hart has made too many mistakes in too many big games.

They fear he is always only one dive or misjudgement away from a game-losing error.

Maybe I'm the only one in the game who feels that Hart has been badly treated.

But the deafening silence from the rest of the Premier League managers, when invited to bid for Hart, said a lot.

You aren't codding anyone if you say Torino are covering a huge amount of Hart's wages.

And Guardiola didn't have an issue with selling Hart to a rival club in the league; he was quite willing to do it.

Which again tells us plenty about Hart's place in the pecking order should he ever return to the club.

It appears that Guardiola has made up his mind that Hart's inability, as he sees it, to find his defenders with accurate 25-yard passes is too much of a burden for the England goalkeeper to carry in his vision of how City will play going forward.

That deal was the biggest of a lively last few days of the transfer window. The English game is awash with cash right now and the clubs had no problem splashing it about.

I mean, Sunerland splashed out £13.6million for a 20-year-old in Gabon midfielder Didier Ndong.

Not long ago you would have want­ed the next Bobby Moore or Franco Baresi for that amount of dough.

Similarly, champions Leicester City lashed out a fair chunk of their windfall from last season's victory to prise Algerian centre-forward Islam Slimani from Sporting Lisbon.

Slimani cost Leicester almost £30million, a crazy sum for the 28-year-old who cannot be the new Alan Shearer.

That wonderful attacker once moved between Blackburn and Newcastle for £15million.

Slimani will have to have as good a season as Jamie Vardy did last year to justify that sort of fee. It's money that you used to spend on a guy who would help you win the Champions League.

Maybe Leicester dream Slimani will do that for them!

You have to wonder what have we done to professional foot­ball by putting this mad money into the game.

Surely the first £100m transfer cannot be too far away, give it a cou­ple of windows - or one more improved TV contract for the Premier League.

It is surely com­ing.